The use of websites to inform and educate the public about specific cases involving false confessions has been a very effective means of advocacy. Some of the best websites out there include www.martytankleff.org and www.norfolkfour.com and www.wm3.org These websites are chock full of information about the cases and also provide general background information about the problem of false confessions.
As effective as these websites are, however, they do not take the reader inside the interrogation room to see exactly what kinds of police tactics can cause false confessions. In this regard, the website of the Committee to Free Ryan Ferguson, a Columbia Missouri teen who was convicted of the murder of Kent Heitholt, a local sportswriter in 2005, breaks new and exciting ground. Ryan Ferguson's support team has posted nearly ten minutes of live video of the interrogation of his co-defendant, Chuck Erickson, on YouTube. (The video can also be seen at www.freeryanferguson.com) The video, entitled "Have You Ever Had A Cop in Your Face", comes complete with commentary which highlights the problematic police interrogation tactics used to get Erickson to confess and which aims to convince viewers that Erickson's confession is false, has received over two thousand hits on YouTube to date and the numbers are growing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dCyKnc1BVV8.
The video makes a compelling case that Erickson's confession is false. Erickson's confession is the only evidence linking Ferguson to the crime. The crime remained unsolved for two and one-half years until Erickson told a friend he had a dream that he had killed Heitholt. Police questioned Erickson who implicated Ryan Ferguson. The video (or at least the excerpts on the web) shows that Erickson did not know non-public details of the crime (like what was used to strangle the victim) and made numerous errors when he guessed at other details (like the number of times the victim was beaten with a blunt object). It also shows Erickson claiming that he fabricated the confession and that he was basing his confession on information he gleaned from newspaper articles.
Ryan's conviction is on appeal. The appeal has been argued before the Missouri appellate court and a ruling is due any day now. Stay tuned.